If you’re like me, you love your Roadtrek. It’s your baby. And, much like a new baby, you want to show it off. And what better way to show it off than in pictures! My wife Rochelle and I came up with some photography tips to help you showcase your Roadtrek Class B Van Conversion like it’s never been seen before. So pick up your camera, or your smartphone, and let’s go shooting.
Play with scale.
Your Roadtrek is a pretty big beast, but we all love them because they’re so much smaller than the alternatives.
You can play with that size difference by photographing your van against a variety of backgrounds. Want to show how big it is? Then show it off against the typical passenger car, or shoot from a low perspective. Want to make it appear smaller? Nature is your answer. A 10-foot tall motorhome is nothing compared to a 3,000 foot tall granite rock.
Don’t lock yourself into shooting your Roadtrek the same way, time after time. By looking for different backgrounds and environments, you’ll be able to add personality to your photography.
Shoot from the inside out.
Photographing our Roadtrek “Charley” from the inside out is Rochelle’s new favorite pastime.
And who can blame her. Those big windows are perfect for “framing” the grand outdoors. I asked her nicely and she told me a few of her secrets for getting a great shot from “the inside out”. First of all, she loves taking “inside” shots with her smartphone because it has such a wide angle of view. But you do need to watch out for exposure problems because the inside of your van is usually much darker than what you’re seeing on the outside. If you’re lucky, you have one of the newer smartphones which have a built-in HDR feature which can even out the exposure. If not, you might need to play around with a software editing app to get a shot that looks the way you want it. She does take a minute or two straightening up the van before she takes her photos. Having a big white roll of paper towels in the middle of your shot will quickly take away any impact you’re hoping to achieve.
Tell a story.
The best way to captivate viewers (our friends, family and anybody else who will look at our pictures) is to tell a story with our photographs.
If you’re visiting a place that’s fantastically gorgeous and you’re out taking some breathtaking landscapes, make sure to include your RV in the picture.
Or, try the journalistic approach. A series of shots that tell a story, even a less-than-glamorous visit to the shop, can be memorable.
Put yourself in the picture.
As much as you like looking at photographs of your Roadtrek, other folks might want to see some pictures of you as well. But there’s no rule saying you can’t do both.
You can include as much, or as little, of your Roadtrek as you like, but when your friends see the smile on your face with that wonderful ride in the background, they won’t be able to keep from smiling too.
Try concentrating on the “little” things.
Little shots can be a lot of fun, and they can tell a story (remember hint #3) all in one shot. For example, the first time I used leveling blocks it was a bit of a disaster. I tried stacking up too many, without building a proper “ramp.” Rochelle was nice enough to document my incompetence, and I have to admit, it does bring back some memories. I’ve learned a lot about RV camping in the last year.
Reflect on this.
This might be my favorite trick of the bunch. The big windows on our Roadtrek Agile are just perfect for reflecting nature. I shoot into my windows just about every time we go out and I’m almost always happy with the results. Sure, I like straight-on landscapes, but the reflection shots always get a lot of attention. Reflection shots work best if you’re photographing bright, colorful scenes, like fall colors, or spring wildflowers.
Play with some software filters.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot with your phone, a compact camera or a DSLR; there are creative editing tools and filters for all of them. Filters are a lot of fun and they can really dress up a photograph that might be a little less than exciting on its own. You can give your images a vintage look, enhance colors and contrast, or even add creative textures.
Try a new angle.
Most of us stand straight up when we’re taking a photograph, and our subject is usually at the same level as our eyeballs. While this may be the most comfortable way to use a camera, it isn’t always the most interesting. When you’re photographing your Roadtrek, make sure you walk around all sides of it. And while you’re doing that, also make sure to duck down a little bit, or climb on things, or stand further away. Try to choose the best possible background to show off your van. I know it takes much longer to do it that way, but you’ll be surprised, and pleased, by the results.
Shoot at night.
Night photography isn’t for everybody. But if you’ve got the equipment (a camera that can take long exposures and a tripod) you can bring home some beautiful and very unique photographs.
I took this one of my Roadtrek “Charley” in Yosemite. The lights of the passing cars lit up the Van and added a feeling of movement. Yosemite Falls in the background sure didn’t hurt either.
It’s all about the composition.
There are more compositional rules out there than you can shake a tripod at, but as much as I hate to say it, they’re there for a reason. In my mind, composition is the most important element in your photographs. Here are some simple concepts to keep in mind when you’re taking a photograph. A) Not everything needs to be in the center of the picture. Mix it up. B) If you’re trying to show something in your photograph, make sure it’s big enough to see. C) Make sure there isn’t anything in your photograph that will interfere with your subject. In other words, if you’re shooting your van, don’t include those trash cans, fire hydrants or sign posts that always want to get in your shot. If you have to, move the van. And finally D) If you cut off part of your van, make sure you intended to do it. You can do that easily by avoiding those “little” cuts. Nothing looks worse than seeing 7/8ths of a van. Or a person, for that matter.
So, those are our 10 tips for photographing your Roadtrek. But, now that I think about it, these little tricks aren’t just for your Class B motorhome. You could use them with a full-sized RV as well. Or even a car. Or a……….well, you get the idea.
Finally, I’d like to thank Mike Wendland, author of the Roadtreking Blog and Admin of the Facebook group Roadtreking for putting together a great video “Sunsets around North American” featuring some awesome owner’s shots of their personal Roadtreks. What a great idea.